“Modern spy agencies part of bigger operations these days and always inventing new toys!“, he thought. Or so, it is generally understood. They are depended on the human animal to provide a facade and as such are vulnerable to their persistently human foibles. The worst brute of the team that I was aware of was someone of a rival age. A big lummox of a man. he particularly liked to push his weight around others. Until the ‘runt of the litter’ in the guise of a much smaller less physical type showed him up in every way. Including in physical dexterity! This lummox misused the latest toy that he had been supplied with. A matter reducer that could perfectly shrink anything living or inert to more diminutive less noticeable proportions. So exasperated was he now inflamed by what to his mind were his humiliating defeats that he decided to goad his rival into a state of impotence and insanity by using the device to shrink himself down to the size of a common house flea! Then, his twisted logic reasoned, he could bite him ceaselessly until he too lost his mind. His plan backfired and though he manages to bite his nemesis once he realized that he was essentially powerless in the environment and became irretrievably lost within it.
That was the sketchy recollection of the dream that the recognition of being same now suggested he was reasonably awake. He had toyed with all the way through the dark into the kitchen. The decision to accept it as a lasting nocturnal image or just allow it to sink into oblivion seem to suggest his indifference about the level of inspiration that it might contribute to diverting him from his own current dismal existence. He went to his portable terminal of the round glass coffee table in the very small apartment’s lounge and hit the bookmark of the laptop computer which jumped into life actuating an audio substitute for a pill. A transliteration of a long dead author of his youth. The proxy for the spirit’s voice narrator spinning a clever tale about a post-apocalyptic scenario, though much more extreme than his own present circumstances, still held a sort of morale of the story value through implied camaraderie. The night sounds in his section of the block made their somber swish as if miming that of an occasional passing vehicle. The sound posed too early and in danger of being in reality a recycling audio track nightly broadcast covertly by the ‘D-State‘. Something in the way of yet another clever strategy from their trick bag of so many to lull the population into a sense of complacency during the ‘normal’ rest cycle. The average ‘Joe’s’ and ‘Jill”s lost in this animal cycle of no conscious thought supposedly at rest properly engaged in deep REM. That way the ‘pluckers’ could go about their appointed task in the wee hours of the morning undeterred to ‘disappear‘ the latest crop of extremist’s that popped up from time to time. It took some time to plant evidence plausible enough to explain the sudden disappearance of familiar faces from the neighborhood. A way inferring the suggestion of an unsuspected medical condition leading to emergency evacuation or of a distant relative unexpectedly pleading over the phone for assistance leading to an unexpected departure. Something? Anything! After all most people were generally too lulled by an enforced love for all things mundane to care much about anything past an hour or two? Probably forgetting the details of the whole affair by the time they returned back home from work mentally purged by their appointed mind numbing habitual cycle. Those whose existence had been allotted the status of perpetual standby. Or in some cases, permanent due to an early dismissal then granted free media access to public airtime so as to obsess abstractly offering their discontent to virtual play violence upon the latest FPS modules dispensed by a D-State outlet store. Also somewhat derisively referred to as, ‘the Conglomerate’.
The man stood for a while listening to the phantoms around him in the rectangular portal arch between the kitchen and his lounge. The room seemed lit in a dim subterranean glow from the forest of street lamps extending into the horizon. The thousands of pinpoints reflecting tin the soft low ceiling of the customary ‘cotton cloud’ that acted like a tent or canopy covering the entire metropolitan area. Spread out each night like a blanket, it served to act as an absorbent antenna transmitting the proper EMF signal paths through its grid to distribute them efficiently to the to the subconscious’ of each recipient. Special instructions delivered to each citizen to properly program them for the coming day. As such the overbearing secondary glow from the persistent canopy of an uninterrupted low cloud cover took on a sinister appearance. One side of him ensconced by it while the other still sat safely harbored in shadow. He was totally alone now. It had been for three years now since he heard the inadvertent nightly stirrings of humanity within his immediate proximity. Everything that suggested fellow human habitation too possibly a faux state stratagem as much as some impromptu combination of distant neighboring humanity. It WAS three years to the day, or at least it would be by the next coming month. His emotional track had not been directly stimulated by the actual touch by another, sensual or otherwise, for almost three times that interval. He might have been considered as the perfect model citizen in regard of the fact that save for short stints of a previous solitary existence he had long kept a close proximity to his two now deceased parents. The infrequent prospects for pair bonding occasioned by repetitive stormy involvements with various now mostly forgotten females still occasionally made ‘guest spot appearances’ in the nightly toil of his dreams.
Breaking free of his muse he looked left towards the bay window’s emptiness. He realized that his appreciation of this past era had been superseded by another that seemed to have crept up on him. A viewpoint of total detachment to anything. An impression that he found alien to his own ongoing little circumscribed fantasy that had perpetuated the continuation of a childlike fascination with a cloistered world of past things now all but visibly extinct. That same world subtended by the presence of his long lost electric train still holding sway engaged on its daily route around the periphery of his conscious existence? He occasionally felt, as if by some odd stretch of a child’s imagination, that his subsequent life amounting to many decades past preadolescence was nothing but a momentary idle sketch dreamed up by the fickle whim of a child’s momentary playfulness? Though the Conglomerate’s intentions seemed in line to fostering categories of similar mental miscalculations overall to keep the general population off balance and at bay. Mass compliance critical to the furthering of its larger agendas. Its various bureaus working overtime being very jealous about how this ongoing process would play out. The idea of implicit consensus being muddied up within the stratagem of fostering individual scenarios mixing daily memory with longstanding self-inspired fantasies seeming some laughable paranoid’s ruse. It irked him when he suddenly realized that he too was caught being alone and vulnerable to sentiments tampered with by shadowy parties outside his immediate perception. The personal realization of the urban legend popular fantasy so distressing that he couldn’t even summon that usual sense of nightly paranoia that suggested he was next on the list to be ‘plucked’. Reluctantly he padded over by a dimly lit chaise to avoid returning to sleep. He placed his headphones over his ears and laid back to continue the latest pacifying nightly tale. Hoping the drone of a state-sponsored midnight narrative would quickly erase these rambling conclusions of conscious recognition of his own disgruntled existence. A long drought of calming tea that he had rescued from the kitchen numbed the recognition of the persistent lurking presence of the vast underbelly of the canopy lurking both outside and inside his skull. He fell back into the hyperbolic narrative of faceless nameless characters that all too closely resembled the fantasy of the lives his neighbors whom of course did not exist.His eyes closed he sank quickly into the required oblivion that was expected.
The sounds of the morning began softly reaching throughout. The open wind transitioning him slowly to gentle awakening. A chipping sound accompanied by a low slowly evolving constant rumble somewhere from afar that might have reasonably supposed as traffic from the distant airport. The prevailing image in his mind this morning was of a giant loaf-like chocolate chip cookie encased within a paper and cellophane wrapper. As such it had been the nightly ethereal focal point of an undisclosed nationalities’ discussion over the validity of the customs of divergent cultures. Nothing tastefully encouraging any possibility of a real appetite, it apparently had derisively related more to the daily functions of the lower organs of the body. Something urgently oppressive that he could not rid his mind of. He could still recall that his unconscious self must have relived the exact same scenario at least two or three times in the course of dreaming before sleep had finally found him. A child’s nagging squeaky voice whined imploringly like a rusty hinge sounding from some outer location farther down the hall outside his apartment. A new chipping sound was now emanating from somewhere within the building. His ear shifted back to outside where slowly rising Doppler hushes of autos passing increased with frequency from down below. “The damnable image must have been a plant!” Something that his mind had been inseminated with deep in cluttered REM The chipping resumed even louder now from across the street outside his lounge window
The surrounding neighborhood was slowly being filled with a symphony chorus of pounding, metal dragging and the occasional siren all directed by a distant approaching train horn’s echo “They must have done a plant on me!“, his mind briefly exploded. The mechanically enslaved sound of a jack hammer pounded from the street below. It rang out diverting him before he could fully expand upon his thought. How foolish to think that after last night’s interminable insomnia! And that which seemed to have the markings of an absolutely new and original thought? It was a plant!
The lichen covered expanse of toy-like houses sat under what remained of last night’s cotton cloud. It’s puffy remnants glided away over the edge of the vast lake to the north. Fading quickly into the usual hazy blue of morning. Only insomniacs seemed to have any awareness of the fact that each evening past ten it was rolled out routinely like a blanket. And then again, just before dawn, magically rolled back again to disappear from sight over the lake. “You weren’t supposed to notice?” he figured. But he did! What were the odd that it could be there every night without exception like clockwork? The rattle of metal on concrete clanged on too seemingly close from just outside as a more mechanized level of chipping continued on. It played havoc with his thoughts. Distracting them to the base state of an animal lizard brain state of complete social annoyance. Why was it that everyone was functionally put out by the fact of their fellows? The answer seemed obvious! The larger fish tank of public discourse tended to follow the same path despite the infused poison that was daily added to steer its conclusions. He mindlessly set his tired limbs expectations back to thoughts towards the kitchen. His best pair of long deposed threadbare pants pulled on one leg at a time in the rise and fall of mental limbo. Like an automaton he found himself at work preparing a couple of eggs with the mindless military precision of a short order cook. No single element or effort accorded more time or attention than absolutely needed to speedily produce the desired result.”Funny?“, he missed. Despite his skilled effort, the eggs had the taint of a synthetic taste. Perhaps indicative of another unknown well-accepted popularly whispered conspiracy incantation.
All the chickens had long ago stopped laying eggs after the spontaneous detonation of another nuclear plant? Most people weren’t aware of that. Catching himself from spacing out, he picked up one of the two thin slabs of brown toast. Tasteless, he bit into it as if it were recycled chipboard. His tongue registering the slight hint of a distant memory of commodities like butter and strawberry jam that had become too rare to cheaply obtain. He bulldozed the salty remnants of the eggs on his plate with the dry toast against his fork.The sight of the meager residue remaining on its surface producing an opposite reaction that killed off his remaining desire to eat. The last corner of toast ground abrasively though his teeth onto his tongue chewing as he carried the soiled plate to the waiting sink in the kitchen. The remnants of his meal deposed into the slurry of hot water down into the drain. All utensils quickly washed and put promptly returned to their usual order. His day of waiting for the approach of another sunset had now begun. It seemed that everyone subliminally investigated turned into blog writers. Some popular, most remaining anonymous and wholly unknown. This might have been an attempt by the supervising animal within to rebuild what inner sanctity that was fragmented or destroyed in the course of the night? Like clockwork his fingers automatically animated themselves across the keyboard to type in the access code to his own site habitually checking to spy any new messages possibly from strange admirers. Their comments reacting to a former post of words. He chucked the keys in a rapid rattled but both domains were empty. Save for the clutter of too many nonsensical proposals ever promising material success and quick service. His fingers drummed the desk before the keyboard before sweeping them into the trash. The long wait through the unbearable monotony of a successive day had begun.
The desert property was far out of the way where most of humanity dwelt and as far as he and his neighbors were concerned could maintain distance and keep it that way! That is why a sense of shock manifest itself when the metal patchwork of a blunt tube of a rocket appeared. Its boxy less than aerodynamic self showed arcing over high in the sky dropping down with what all surmised must have been a nuclear of biological attack. You can imagine the collective relief when it turned out to be a dud! Its most immediate neighbor of the man relieved to the point of ecstasy when they saw that the damn thing did not explode! It looked like some absurd gigantic childhood bubblegum cigar off cant of vertical with its nose buried deep in a sandbank. The only thing missing being a cheap paper wrapper ringed around its middle. The experience leaving all trembling with a mixture of rage and relief for a while appearing like nervous wrecks. “The neighborhood was going fast!“, as the old saying went.
The dull glow of dawn came over him. It made him recall things that he never thought he would have. Old personal myths concerning places that had literally haunted him in dreams throughout his life. Locales seeming repeatedly familiar that had once held out the notion of that which in former eras had seemed to be eternal. But much to his surprise had long ago been crowded out from his subconscious neighborhood. Displaced by the appearance of newer more modern empty insoluble conundrums that were empty of human habitations all emotions earthly or ethereal now absolutely undetectable. The decay of the old familiar structure progressively ‘going south‘ from furnished to empty and abandoned. The upper floors then being found at a later date to be collapsed leaning upon an eviscerated ground floor and basement. And now the entire structure completely gone, save for one devastated corner located far back of the former servant’s quarters. Itself burning on fire due to the mischief of passing vandals.
He was awake again. Awake and feeling very vulnerable as he lay feet first toward the door looking into the hallway. Thinking, he was thinking about . . . ? “Could you call it that?” He was scared. Scared and on edge. He felt as if he was caught in a recycling time space where no matter how much you hope time will move on, it doesn’t seem to want to. The hands on the ornate German wall clock were tirelessly swung barely past one. He took a few more steps and peered with apprehension at the digital readout of the time on his stove. It said two. The wall clock was wrong. “Had someone opened it’s glass panel and manually changed it?” He looked at the two brass counterweights before the tiny swinging pendulum. It was still swinging away. Another sleepless night. He hated this. Every night awakened by something. Something that on waking he generally could not remember. Sometime his own atrophying digestive system? The noise from without had ceased long ago. Most of his neighbors had moved away. The annoying ones that played their TV’s and radios loud. That generation was being displaced. He turned around to look over his shoulder. He hadn’t heard anything but the possibility that someone had entered his apartment while he was sleeping sent chills up and down his spine. The door was still set with the Police lock apparatus. It would had taken more that a shoulder or flying stomp to stealthily breach it. He would have known! Yet as he tread back to his bed in careful little rapid steps he knew that he would feel the presence of something menacing the monument that he swung under the covers and turned his head away from the room’s point of entry. It seemed the sort of dark inadvertent game that a child would play? Making a covenant with powers unseen to act as a trembling wary sentinel staying awake and fixed on the most likely vulnerable spot not turning away lest some phantom swiftly appear standing menacingly above if he turned away for even and instant.
His dream world seemed no more hospitable. Maybe less so? It was acceptable to believe that the general impression of a bad dream was in many ways similar to a storm. After one had experienced so many of same over the years it was a case of enduring the roughest patch for the scenario just beyond. The problem was that on occasion there wasn’t a progression to another situation but what felt like a record skipping back to the same spot or a tape loop. The same thing would just repeat again and again, one and on. He could recall that there was a menace roaming about. Earlier on it had taken out the next door neighbor who fell prey to a fit of the inanity of rage and shot someone next to the old suburban bungalow that the dreamer did not live in. His unseen nemesis ranted like a Tyrannosaurus Rex threatening to appear magically within the dining room to shoot the dreamer and the shadowy family family that he was not part of. This had happened at least twice? The next chapter of the same ethereal drama unfolded into a situation not too dissimilar to the enclosure of the waking dilemma. He could not be sure that the perimeter of the living space that he lay dormant and prone within would provide adequate cover against some unspecified monster Hell bent on enacting some unthinkable method of ghastly destruction. He could recall a more frenzied type of nocturnal mobility of an unresolvable quality in the haze and confusion of too many repetitions. A couple of times the clock on the wall had progressed. But only a matter of a block of minutes and not the larger portion of the fragment of eight or so hours that might have been expected.
The last segment he could most vividly recall was being cast as a subsidiary minder in a crown of young boys all gathered in the dark of an open field by torchlight. He and his fellow minders engaged in keeping the tightly packed standing throng of young boys focused upon a large screen in the chill of empty night. The projected drama was in short synopsis a sadomasochistic tale of a young adolescent that was being harassed and constantly threatened by unfair mischance of what was a very cynical screenplay. You could hear a moan rise up in places within the herd of restless viewers. The proctors like the dreamer expected to quell these disturbances and redirect the attention to the presentation. You could tell that every one of the boys hated it. “That’s not fair!“, a voice would sound out here or there. He kept repeating his thought that he wished he could be in a classroom once again teaching them something useful! “I could show you how an automobile engine is built!” “How it works!” he desperately mouthed aloud to a small circle of boys. It was no use! The situation did not allow for such a thing. It was not designed to. The raising of collective bile within the assembly of innocents and its refining into angst and resentment was the order of the evening here. You could see it by torchlight as if the ranks of the dissatisfied had been assembled into the expectation of eventually descending to the animal insensibility of a lynch mob mentality. This seemed worse than laying under thin covers alone without any implement of defense to stop the blows of an unspecified attacker.
He turned his head out of the glaring headlights of his recollection back into the semi-lit chamber. The somber illumination of an approaching day was quickly stealing night from the landscape outside. The accompanying darkness within was evaporating rapidly into the same old inventory of surrounding objects still in the exact same arrangement as the previous evening. The same exact configuration undisturbed by any other hand save his own. What had happened to humanity in this unsure mental jungle plagued by its persistent malevolence? The fiends were unseen alright! But he suspected that they repeatedly reached out their horrible clutches not from a den hidden within the inky shadow of restless night but by some occult instrumentation from the machinations of the brightness of day. The thought exhausted him. All he could hope for was to have a deep undisturbed rest at some point. Wearily he rose up from the chair and walked back into the bedroom to remove the loaded automatic from under the rumbled pillow of his bed. His flat palms beat the sheets sweeping them into a semblance of smoothness. Flipping over the covers and striking them in the the same impotent manner. He brought the handful of nightly toys into the other room. The most lethal of the collection dropped into the iron safe the lid dropped shut to rest until night. It was another day.